What's on the New SAT?

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What's on the New SAT?

The redesigned SAT is 3 hours long, or 3 hours and 50 minutes long if you choose to take the "optional" 50-minute essay. (Note: The essay is optional for colleges, but many schools require it. Be sure to research and determine if you need to take the essay for the schools you're applying to!). The test is divided into two sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing—which consists of the Reading Test and the Writing and Language Test—and Math, which has two sections: Math Test—Calculator and Math Test—No Calculator. The Math Tests contain some student-produced responses (called "grid-ins"), but all other questions are multiple choice. All multiple-choice questions have four possible answer choices, which is a departure from the five choices on the old SAT.

The New SAT has:

' Reading: 1 65-minute Evidence-Based Reading section

' Language: 1 35-minute Evidence-Based Language and Writing section

' Math -- 55-minute section with calculator

' Math -- 25-minute section without calculator

' 1 Essay test (optional) - 50 minutes

' 4 answer choices for multiple choice questions

Reading Test

Your score on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section of the SAT is comprised of your scores on the Reading Test and the Writing and Language Test. The Reading Test is 65 minutes long and consists of 52 questions, all of which are passage-based and multiple choice. Passages may be paired with informational graphics, such as charts or graphs, and there will also be a series of questions based on a pair of passages. The selected passages will be from previously published works in the areas of world literature, history/social studies, and science. Questions based on science passages may ask you to analyze data or hypotheses, while questions about literature passages will concentrate more on literary concepts like theme, mood, and characterization. The main goal is to measure your ability to both understand words in context and find and analyze evidence.

Writing and Language Test

The Writing and Language Test is 35 minutes long and consists of 44 questions, which are also multiple choice and based on several passages. However, instead of asking you to analyze a passage, questions will ask you to proofread and edit the passage. That means you'll have to correct grammar and word choice and make larger changes to the organization or content of the passage.

Math Test

You'll have a total of 80 minutes to complete the Math Test, which, as we mentioned earlier, is divided into two sections: No Calculator (Section 3; 25 minutes, 20 questions) and Calculator (Section 4; 55 minutes, 38 questions). Most questions are multiple choice, but there are also a handful of student-produced response questions, which are also known as Grid-Ins. (Instead of choosing from four answer choices, you'll have to work through a problem and then enter your answer on your answer sheet by bubbling in the appropriate numbers.) Exactly 13 of the 58 math questions will be Grid-Ins.

The Math Test covers four main content areas, which the test developers have named the following: (1) Heart of Algebra, (2) Problem Solving and Data Analysis, (3) Passport to Advanced Math, and (4) Additional Topics in Math. This last section includes topics in geometry and trigonometry.

Optional Essay

While the old SAT required students to write a 25-minute essay as part of the test, the new SAT has an "optional" essay. This word is in quotes because many schools may require the essay portion of the SAT, so be sure to do your research and determine if you need to take this part of the test! But if you must take this part, you'll have double the amount of time than you would have on the old SAT—50 minutes!—to write it. The essay will not require you to write about a personal experience or argue with a position; rather, you'll have to read a short passage and explain how the author effectively builds his or her argument. The test writers want to see how you comprehend a text and demonstrate that understanding in writing, using evidence from the text.

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